To the campus community:
We have completed two full weeks of class, and while we continue to strive to provide as normal a semester as possible, our COVID-19 case count is rising. I’d like to talk about what safety measures the College has taken and will take (including the indoor mask mandate), CDC findings on classroom COVID-19 transmission, and what we all need to do in order to keep each other safer.
As an institution we did several things to help the community come together more safely:
Vaccinations remain the most effective tool at combating the most serious outcomes of COVID-19. For those who have received medical or religious exemptions, we urge you to remain in contact with your physician or spiritual leader to evaluate whether, now that the Pfizer vaccine has full FDA approval, remaining unvaccinated is the best option for you. While our number of vaccine exemptions is very small because students live, work, and play in close proximity to each other, it is likely that every day vaccinated and unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff come in contact with one another.
Vaccines alone are not thwarting the spread of disease, and this has proven especially true on college campuses where large numbers of students eat and live with each other. In studying K-12 and early childhood classrooms, the CDC consistently has found that classroom environments are low risks for COVID-19 transmission, especially when additional mitigation measures such as requiring masks and increasing ventilation or filtration are added. Our own and other campuses’ contact tracing experiences last spring and in the early fall suggest the same holds true for the college classroom environment. Social settings are a very different issue, and all of our COVID-19 outbreaks have been linked to social events and activities. What can you do to better protect yourself and those around you?
We had hoped to see a reduction in the number of COVID-19 cases regionally by this point, but the county remains in high transmission, and our campus COVID-19 cases are escalating. Therefore we will continue to require masking indoors in all academic and administrative buildings, the fitness center, dining halls when not eating, the libraries, at athletic events, and in performance spaces. We also recommend even if you are vaccinated that you mask inside your residence halls, when visiting shops in town, and when outside in larger groups.
You have an active role to play in our successful on-campus semester. Follow our numbers on the COVID-19 dashboard. We will update the case numbers daily and the testing and vaccination numbers weekly.
Be on the lookout for a weekly update from me on the status of the campus in regard to COVID-19 and the measures needed to be safer together.
Vice President for Campus Life